Telésforo Segura
Director General
View from the Top

Preparation Provides Advantage

Wed, 01/18/2017 - 15:37

Q: What have been the biggest opportunities for COBSA since the Energy Reform?

A: The Energy Reform has had positive and negative results. It is a complicated process with a steep learning curve for all involved, particularly new players with less knowledge. For unprepared companies, the opening of the market was chaotic. Thankfully, COBSA spent four years preparing for these changes, which gave us an advantage.

As a construction company we have high-quality standards that approach international guidelines. The majority of similar Mexican companies did not worry about obtaining international certifications before the market opened, especially financial certificates. COBSA is a financially viable company, a factor that has greatly benefited us in the new market.

Our focus on social responsibility also positions us well because we can use social initiatives to remove the stigma around foreign companies coming to Mexico to take advantage of our resources. This, together with our financial strength, international certifications and high-quality standards, mean foreign companies coming to Mexico are seeking us out as partners.

Some people say Mexico was too late in introducing the Energy Reform but we like to think it happened exactly on time. Mexico can look at other countries to avoid certain mistakes while adopting their successful approaches. We will also see important economic progress in a few years as a direct result of the Energy Reform. With the liberalization of the gasoline market we will see a range of companies importing and selling fuel at competitive prices. This will be a niche opportunity for the construction industry and especially for COBSA.

Q: How does COBSA help its clients to increase their productivity and efficiency?

A: In Mexico we are used to working within a monopolistic setting, which does not encourage competition between companies. The new rules state that PEMEX is just another player. This means COBSA must become more productive and competitive. To achieve this we are carrying out a range of initiatives. One main component is the constant updating of our staff’s training. Despite the fact that 2016 was difficult in terms of income, we have continued to dedicate ourselves to the bettering of our employees and that has helped us reach international standards of productivity.

Q: How does COBSA ensure it can offer its clients the latest technology?

A: COBSA always selects the most competitive companies on the market as technological partners. Our partner Rosen, for example, is a global leader in pipeline integrity management. We also have a strong alliance with a coatings provider and providers of tubing reinforcement equipment. Together we are building four storage tanks for a client, using the latest technology to deliver the project in record time.

Q: What has COBSA contributed to the Los Ramones project?

A: Like any pipeline project, once the pipes are installed they require quality inspections to detect any failures. These details are extremely important and can be dangerous if not caught in time. This is the service we are delivering at Los Ramones.

Even new pipelines will require maintenance work further down the line but in reality it begins with the pipeline’s construction. COBSA is a maintenance company ready to take on this challenge with certified maintenance work. We are one of the few national companies that can deliver the required standards when it comes to pipeline maintenance.

Q: What role will COBSA play in the evolving gas pipeline sector in Mexico, which includes new and old pipelines?

A: Haulers are not worried about the construction of the pipelines but about the long-term maintenance commitments. To get the final product to the customer, the security and integrity of the pipeline is indispensable, especially given the large amounts of financial investments made in these projects. When a gas pipeline stops functioning, it does not  end there. It stops the whole industry. COBSA’s core business addresses these worries, offering services to improve the mechanical integrity of pipelines.

COBSA has been dedicated to pipeline and petroleum installations maintenance for 20 years. Throughout those two decades and with more than 1,200 pipeline interventions, we have perfected our safety processes, resulting in zero accidents over the history of the company. Our response time is very quick and clients can be assured that we are a fully certified construction company.

Q: What opportunities does COBSA envisage to grow its storage business?

A: The storage and distribution market in Mexico has not grown as much as the market demanded so with PEMEX offering its pipelines in its business plan, we see lots of opportunities. We are certain the new operators in the country will require the construction of new distribution lines and storage units.

There is definitely demand for storage and distribution in the fuel market so as a construction and maintenance company COBSA can be involved in this. We already have experience constructing and maintaining tanks.

Q: How has COBSA’s client portfolio changed over the past year?

A: For many years we were used to working with just one large client: PEMEX. The introduction of new companies into the Mexican oil and gas market forced us to learn how to work and negotiate with different types of businesses. We also had to offer more value. We prepared for four years to get our standards up to scratch for these new players. The preparations paid off and we are now qualified to work with major players like ENGIE, IEnova and Bonatti. We are also certified by DNV-GL and have obtained ASME and AWS certification. Finally, COBSA holds a certification for being a socially responsible company. The professionalization of our business has been a step by step process from the beginning and that continues. The key is investment in training our human capital.

Q: How does COBSA’s focus on social responsibility contribute to the company’s success?

A: COBSA’s dedication to social responsibility has helped the company in various ways. We do not treat social responsibility as a superficial image enhancer. Instead, it is about really showing people that COBSA cares, whether it is for an individual or a community. Our clients also feel they are part of something bigger because instead of focusing solely on turning a profit we give back to the 177 communities where we work. COBSA’s social plans also include sustainable solutions. Social responsibility is not just the responsibility of one department but of all COBSA’s staff, as well as its providers and clients.

Q: How can COBSA help incoming international companies gain acceptance from the Mexican public?

A: Foreign firms are not coming to exploit Mexico but to invest in it. Through our work we can help foreign companies shed the negative stereotype that they are coming to take advantage of the country. In fact, we have managed to achieve this in the past with PEMEX. We have worked with PEMEX in deprived communities, providing bicycles to children who live far away from schools.